Drama never seems to be too far away. It seems like more and more people are hiding some nefarious intentions behind their machinations.
Yet, the messiness of the human condition is not at all new. For all of the advances that we have made socially and technologically, there are still plenty of selfish currents moving beneath the surface that are influencing what is happening around us.
That is all due to the actions and choices of people.
Learning how to avoid drama is an essential skill for lowering your stress and living a peaceful life.
How do you do that?
1. Audit your circle of friends and relatives regularly.
It’s not some hidden secret that the people you spend the most time around are going to have the most influence on your life and perspectives.
Avoid surrounding yourself with people who are constantly mired in drama, either from the outside or of their own creation.
That does not necessarily mean you need to just cut people completely out or off. Sometimes it’s not possible to remove someone from your life who isn’t a healthy person to be around, particularly if they are related to you or your spouse.
Take some time to really think about the people that you spend the most time with.
Are they positive or peaceful people? Are they trying to better themselves?
Do they make you feel good, or do they make you feel drained and negative when you spend time with them?
Are these friendships and relationships bringing good things or bad things to your life?
And sometimes you’ll have people who were formerly wonderful or drama-filled, but they’ve changed over time.
It’s worth examining these relationships and not giving undue time or attention to people who do not bring value to your life.
Instead, invest your time and attention in the positive relationships to keep them healthy and reciprocal.
2. Utilize the Gray Rock Method.
The Gray Rock Method is a common technique used to interact with and minimize the damage that narcissists can do to a person’s life.
It also works with people who have a lot of drama in their lives who inadvertently spread it by continually demanding emotional support without ever doing anything to fix their situation.
These individuals are “emotional vampires,” in that they are there to suck up whatever sympathy or pity they can garner so they can feel sorry for themselves.
They typically offer little to nothing back in the relationship. They always expect you to be there for them, but they are never there for you in any meaningful way, or they minimize your problems and bring the attention back to them.
The idea is simply to make yourself as boring and uninteresting as possible to the person so nothing really stands out that can be used against you or as a means to hook you in.
That means giving noncommittal answers, not having opinions on emotionally charged subjects, and not allowing yourself to have visible emotional reactions to whatever the person is doing or saying.
You don’t share anything of a personal nature with the other person so that they have no angle to try to work you from.
Minimizing contact or only communicating on your own terms or schedule also helps to round the whole approach out.
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3. Never give advice unless asked. Only give advice once when asked.
Advice is a tricky thing. It’s tricky because it is often unwelcome unless asked for. No one really likes to be told what to do or how to live their life.
Being a dispenser of advice is a double-edged sword, particularly if you are the type of person who enjoys helping other people find their way.
On the one hand, learning from the experiences of people who have already walked the roads that we are trying to navigate is valuable. On the other, you can easily get you sucked into other peoples’ drama.
One option is to never be a dispenser of advice, that way people don’t come to you with their problems. Another is to erect and enforce boundaries.
Never give advice unless it’s actually asked for. If it’s unclear, ask the person if they are looking for advice or if they are just venting. And if they say they want advice, then by all means dispense away.
A solid boundary that will keep emotional vampires from latching on is to not dispense advice more than once.
There are people who insist on chasing their own tails constantly. They will come back to you time and time again with the same problems without actually trying the advice that you already dispensed.
The more you entertain those kinds of actions, the more the person will come back to you. Just defer back to your original advice if they request advice again.
4. Employing tactful honesty drives away emotional vampires.
Do you know what emotional vampires and drama-filled people hate hearing? The honest truth. Tactful honesty is a matter-of-fact way to plainly state a less favorable opinion while lessening the blowback.
The word tactful is important. There are so many people out there who use “brutal honesty” as a convenient excuse to say whatever is on their mind without any thought to actually instigating a change.
People stop listening and dig further into their own defensiveness when you fire anger at them or their opinions. In addition, they can use your anger against you to make you look like you’re the problem.
In delivering tactful honesty, one wants to stick to the facts and deliver them in a calm, nonconfrontational way. Yes, the person may fire back with anger and try to bait you into an argument, but that can be avoided by choosing not to engage in the conversation on those terms.
The great thing about tactful honesty is that real people tend to appreciate it, because brutal honesty can be too much for some, particularly if they aren’t in a healthy mental state.
Emotional vampires, hangers on, and drama-filled people hate tactful honesty because it helps to expose the truth but gives them no ammunition to use against you.
All you need to do if they try to bait you into an argument after speaking your mind is to shrug and say, “That’s just my opinion.”
5. “I hate drama!”
The nice thing about people who are constantly surrounded by drama is that they usually tell you that they are.
“I hate drama!” or “I don’t get along with X group of people” are both phrases that should give you pause and cause you to more closely scrutinize the person before getting too close to them.
Both phrases infer this person is having regular problems with other people, so much that they feel the need to announce it ahead of time.
A lot of times, it’s because the person is oblivious to their own problems or role in those interactions.
Are there some people who just get continuously swept up in other peoples’ problems? Absolutely, but they are few and far between. It’s far more likely that the person is continuously making bad choices or surrounding themselves with toxic people.
Many people lack any kind of self-awareness and simply view drama as a regular part of life, rather than deciding not to get swept up in it by choosing to not participate.
Of course, that isn’t true for everyone. There are plenty of situations out there where there are no good choices. You can’t really make any snap judgments from one or two interactions.
Sometimes, people are just having a temporary hard time, and that’s okay. We all do. Patience and support can be wonderful at those times.
As for the people who continually choose to be involved in drama, they usually have to learn the hard way, if they ever learn.
Best to just keep your distance and stay firmly behind your own boundaries where their drama can’t touch you.